Modern Theosophy postulates that the field of existence embraces more than this material and passing reality we perceive through our senses. In fact, the lack of knowledge about the higher aspects of reality makes us see things from an incorrect perspective, which is the root cause of suffering. We can gain knowledge of the Real, both in the universe and in human beings, by means of a holistic spiritual practice that includes study, meditation and service.
Below are some of the basic ideas the Theosophical literature offers for consideration. However, the Theosophical Society does not ask its members to adhere to any of these ideas in particular. Members are only expected to be in agreement with the Three Objects of our organisation.
- Ultimate reality is a unified whole – absolute, impersonal, unknowable and indescribable.
- The universe in which we live is manifold, diverse, constantly changing, relative (which means that each part has meaning and value only in relation to others), and illusory or mayavic (that is, its reality differs from its appearance).
- The ultimate reality is the source of all consciousness, matter and energy, which are its three mutually necessary aspects in the manifest universe and are present in every being and every particle. There is no dead or unconscious matter.
- The universe and everything in it are emanations or expressions of the ultimate reality, not creations out of nothing by a personal creator.
- The universe is eternal, but with innumerable worlds periodically manifesting within it.
- The universe is pervaded by a collective intelligence, a cosmic mind, which is consciously expressed in varying degrees by all the beings in the universe.
- The physical universe of which we are normally aware is only one aspect of the total universe, which consists of multiple planes, fields, or dimensions of being – coexisting, interpenetrating and interacting aspects of the whole. Of the seven planes of our solar system, human beings function primarily on the lower three: physical, emotional and mental.
- The universe and everything in it are orderly, following patterns of regular cycles, including alternating phases of activity and rest, governed by a universal principle of cause and effect or karma. In human life, this principle of cycles is expressed, among other ways, by repeated rebirths or reincarnation.
- Evolution, which is the result of an inner and intelligent guidance expressed through personal effort, is good, has purpose, and follows a plan.
- Our material forms are evolving, but so are our conscious knowledge of the universe and our spiritual awareness of our basic unity with all life.
- We are composite beings; we have a number of independently evolved principles or faculties whose development is a purpose of evolution. In both the universe and us, there are seven such principles.
- We are threefold beings: (1) a temporary, single-lifetime personality, (2) an abiding, evolving individuality that reincarnates, and (3) a spark or direct emanation of the ultimate reality. The integration of these three aspects is the driving force of our evolution.
- The process of evolution, which begins by unconscious impulse, must eventually become a conscious process directed by the free will and ever increasing self-awareness of the evolving entities. The conscious participation by human beings in evolutionary change is symbolised as walking a path.
- The evolving entities of the universe include intelligences both less and more advanced than human beings, of whom some of the more advanced (the Masters or Adepts) may serve as helpers and guides to the less advanced.
- The key to the advancement of human evolution is a dedication by the individual to the service of others, that is, altruism – an awareness of brotherly unity and a forgetfulness of personal separateness.
- The pain, cruelty and frustration we experience in life are the result of ignorance, unbalanced actions, relative dislocations, or change; they are not independently existing evils.
- It is possible, as a result of individual effort in this life, for human beings to come by intuitive knowledge or mystical experience to a full awareness of their non-separateness from the ultimate reality.
- Correspondences, analogies, meaningful connections, and patterned repetitions exist among all things in the universe. By using those correspondences, we can use what we know to discover the unknown.
- Behind the exoteric or public forms of all religions and religious philosophies there exists an esoteric or inner teaching that holds such concepts as those listed here.
- H. P. Blavatsky ... wrote:
“Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love and wisdom reflecting its radiance upon earth... The Theosophical Society was formed to show mankind that it exists.”
To be sure, this “shoreless ocean” is not the exclusive possession of the Theosophical Society; it exists everywhere and has always been available to the fearlessly questing mind. Some of the central concepts of this universal truth have, however, been formulated more specifically in the literature of Theosophy than elsewhere, and their totality is coherently set forth in Theosophy, which has a special relevance to our times...
Blavatsky has [also] been reported as saying that the study of the great universal principles of Theosophy requires a special kind of mental effort that involves “the carving out of new brain paths.” It is not always easy for us, with our conditioned minds, to submit to so rigorous an undertaking, but once we have overcome our reluctance and inertia, we may find it the most exciting adventure of our lives.
The above has been excerpted from the book Theosophy: An Introductory Study Course updated by John Algeo (4th ed. Wheaton, Illinois, USA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1968.)